Posted by: wheelywonka | August 28, 2010

I’ve Been Everywhere, Man – But I’ve Never had a Donkey Laugh at Me as I Struggled to Climb a Hill

“I’ve been everywhere, man.
I’ve been everywhere, man.
Crossed the desert’s bare, man.
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man.
Of travel I’ve had my share, man.
I’ve been everywhere.”

– Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere”

…Today I joined Velo Valero for a 50 miler in the Hill Country.  We started at the City Park in Comfort, and headed north to Kerrville along 1341, a gloriously hilly and winding road with butter-smooth pavement.  I was with with the usual pod – Chuck, John, Ray, Luis, plus a few new folks, along with a buddy from work named Mike, who used to ride with the Texas A&M Cycling team back in the Greg LeMond days.   We stopped at the Valero Station on 16 in Kerrville, and then the group split up.  Mike and I needed to get back, so we took 173 South to Camp Verde, and then back to Comfort through Centerpoint.  (Click here for the route map.)    Other than some bone-rattling chip seal on 173 and the road from Camp Verde to Centerpoint, it was an amazingly smooth and fast set of roads – as a result, we averaged 17.5 mph (much of it into the wind).   Each week I feel a little stronger, and can ride a little longer at a higher rate of speed.  This, my friends, is what training is all about. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the ride for a number of reasons, two of which are:

It was actually chilly when we started off at 7:30.  In fact, for the first 10 miles, my toes were numb from the cold.   It makes such a difference when you ride in cooler temperatures – your body can work that much harder, and you can ride that much faster.  And, even better, when you get home, you’re not as wiped out.  The whole time I was riding I was thinking, “That ride down River Road is gonna’ be awesome during the Ride to the River,  ’cause it will be cool and shady, and we’ll be riding like cycling torpedos to finish the first day of the event.”

The second reason I enjoyed the ride was the route spanned some of the most gorgeous scenery in the Hill Country, and it reminded me what a blessing it is that those of us who live in San Antonio have such great places to ride so close to the city – routes that offer variety, history, scenery, along with a damn good work out.   I always make fun of my flatlander cycling friends in Houston, because they only have two varieties of riding they can do – flat and windy.  In over a decade of cycling in South Texas, I’ve seen the Camel in Camp Verde, the Freaknut in Floresville, and the Über Pecan in Seguin.  During rides, I’ve had Dublin Doctor Pepper in Waring, a cool beer at Gruene Hall, and rested in the shade at Luckenbach while listening to a guy with a guitar sing about his pain.  And on and on.   Sometimes it feels (in the words of the immortal Johnny Cash, bless his soul), that “I’ve been everywhere, man”.  (Click here for a great set of ride maps for the Hill Country northwest of San Antonio.)

And, even though I’ve been riding for so long, there’s always something new and interesting to see and hear.  Today I experienced something that was really quite funny.  At the beginning of the ride, as we were grunting our way up one of the many hills on 1341, a donkey at the top of the hill began braying at us.  It was a long and steep hill, and it was quite a struggle for us to get to the top.  We all slowed down a bit, and as a result, it got real quiet except for the sound of the heavy breathing.  And, of course, that damn donkey laughing and laughing at us.  One of the riders next to me said, “That’s not really the type of crowd support I was looking for…”     I was still laughing as I got to the other side of the hill, and then took off like a Saturn V with the rest of the guys.

Why is this donkey laughing at me?

There are many reasons to ride your bike.  You are improving your health, you get to meet great people, and you get to help out a truly great cause through your participation in Bike MS events like the RTTR.  The other thing is that you get to experience the great outdoors from the best seat in the house, aka, the seat of your bike.   There are those who sleep late on a Saturday morning, and they are truly missing something by not being out on the road under an open sky, with the wind rushing past you  and your heart pounding in rhythm to the cadence of a blistering pace line. 

See you on the road!         

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Responses

  1. […] pretty spry at the end of it.  Much of this was due to the cool weather, which as I mentioned in last week’s blog, does allow you to ride harder with less effort because your body is not working to cool itself […]


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